Navigation Links
Brain's white matter -- More 'talkative' than once thought

Johns Hopkins scientists have discovered to their surprise that nerves in the mammalian brain’s white matter do more than just ferry information between different brain regions, but in fact process information the way gray matter cells do.

The discovery in mouse cells, outlined in the cover story of the March issue of Nature Neuroscience, shows that brain cells “talk?with each other in more ways than previously thought.

“We were surprised to see these nerve axons talking to other cells in the white matter,?says Dwight Bergles, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience at Hopkins.

The discovery focuses on oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), whose main role when they mature into oligodendrocytes is to wrap themselves around and insulate nerves with a whitish coat of protective myelin. The immature cells simply hang around and divide very slowly, waiting to be spurred into action.

To learn more about OPCs that reside in the brain’s white matter, the Johns Hopkins researchers measured activity from individual precursor cells in the corpus callosum, a region of white matter that connects the two brain hemispheres. To their surprise, OPCs were found to have electrical signals produced by the neurotransmitter glutamate, similar to the signals used as the principle means of cell-to-cell communication and information processing in the gray matter. The phenomenon was unlikely, they said, because in the mouse brain, OPCs in the myelin-rich white matter are far from synapses, the points of contact between nerves where glutamate is released.

Theorizing that OPCs might have experienced glutamate in some less obvious way in this area of the brain, Bergles and his team studied nearby nerve cells to figure out where the glutamate might be coming from.

By forcing single nerve cells to become excited one at a time, they discovered that as electrical impulses are carried along the nerves, glutamate is released and caus es electrical signals in the OPCs. A further microscopic hunt revealed that pools of glutamate were present in the nerve fibers wherever they touched OPCs. All of the nerve cells in the white matter that released glutamate within reach of OPCs, moreover, had something in common: no myelin insulation.

Normally myelin speeds electrical impulses. Cells lacking the coating fire 20 to 90 times slower than cells coated with myelin. Myelin loss is well known to impair signaling and information processing, causing nerve cells to die and creating such neurodegenerative conditions as multiple sclerosis.

Bergles speculates that this white matter activity his team discovered may help “naked?nerve cells signal nearby OPCs and say “cover me with myelin because we need to replace another cell that has been damaged.?
'"/>

Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


Related biology news :

1. NYU Study Reveals How Brains Immune System Fights Viral Encephalitis
2. Shifty-eyed Monkeys Offer Window Into Brains Social Reflexes
3. What Makes The Brain Tick, Tick, Tick: Researchers Gaining New Insights Into Brains Internal Clock
4. Brains own cannabis compound protects against inflammation
5. Brains gambling circuitry identified
6. Brains reward circuit activity ebbs and flows with a womans hormonal cycle
7. Why do aneurysms form? New studies suggest leading role for white blood cells
8. Bad enzymes may wear white hats after stroke
9. Gene patterns in white blood cells quickly diagnose disease
10. Research could lead to better drugs and whiter whites
11. For Pacific white shrimp, gender matters when competing for food

Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:6/2/2016)... -- Perimeter Surveillance & Detection Systems, Biometrics ... Support & Other Service  The latest report ... analysis of the global Border Security market . ... $17.98 billion in 2016. Now: In November ... software and hardware technologies for advanced video surveillance. ...
(Date:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour Research & ... Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. A particular ... a program where they would receive discounts for sharing ... "We were surprised to see that so many ... CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there are segments ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... BANGALORE, India and LONDON ... Infosys Finacle, part of EdgeVerve Systems, a ... ), and Onegini today announced a partnership to ... banking solutions.      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ... banks to provide their customers enhanced security to ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM Inc. (TSX-V: BRM) ("Biorem" or "the ... major shareholders, Clean Technology Fund I, LP and Clean ... based venture capital funds which together hold approximately ... fully diluted, as converted basis), that they have entered ... equity holdings in Biorem to TUS Holdings Co. Ltd. ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Newly ... technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary focus is ... manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies efficiently bring ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... June 24, 2016  Regular discussions on a range of ... between the two entities said Poloz. Speaking at ... Ottawa , he pointed to the country,s inflation target, ... government. "In certain ... institutions have common economic goals, why not sit down and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced ... this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , ...
Breaking Biology Technology: